A recall election for Chadron Mayor John Chizek and vice-mayor Steve Duncan appears likely, after Dawes County Clerk Cheryl Feist’s announcement at a news conference on Thursday, Aug. 4 that more than enough signatures on recall petitions had been verified.
Assistant county clerk Deb Lesmeister verified 360 of the 368 signatures on petitions calling for recall of Chizek, and 342 of 385 signatures on the petitions seeking Duncan’s recall, Feist said.
Two-hundred-sixty-five signatures were needed to recall the two city council members, Feist said.
One entire sheet of 20 signatures was rejected because of incomplete notary information, said Feist. Other signatures were rejected for a variety of reasons, including incorrect addresses, individuals not registered to vote in Nebraska or in Dawes County and a crossed out name, she said.
Feist said she would send a certified letter to the Chadron City Council immediately with notification that the threshold of petition signatures had been reached. The two council members have five days from receipt of the letter to resign their position, and if they do not, the council must schedule an election within 30 to 45 days, she said.
The election will be handled exactly as any other, with publication of formal public notice and a sample ballot, according to Feist. She estimated the total cost of the election at about $5,000, which includes the cost of rental of a polling place, printing of the ballots and publication notices, and hiring poll workers.
The petitions were circulated by Chadron resident Dr. Robert Penor, who has said he does not believe Chizek and Duncan are acting in the best interests of the city. In statements filed after the petitions were filed, both council members defended their actions.
Penor, who was at the news conference Thursday, said he was grateful to Feist and her staff for their work on the recall, and to others who had helped with the effort. “It’s a free country and we exercised that freedom,” he said.